Adventist student wins territorial poetry competition, advances to DC finals

Competition winner Hazel Ipuniuesea Leo (left) and chaperone Jessebeth Lynn Ropeti.

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Iakina Adventist Academy (American Samoa) sophomore Hazel Ipuniuesea Leo, has emerged as the winner of the state/territory-level Poetry Out Loud competition hosted by the American Samoa Council on Arts, Culture & Humanities on March 17.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students across the United States. It is organised by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Out Loud Foundation.

Ms Leo competed against students from eight local high schools, including five private institutions run by local churches and three public schools.

“After placing third overall in the previous school year, Hazel was determined to do the best she could to display her love for poetry this year, and by the grace of God, she succeeded,” said Jessebeth Lynn Ropeti, Ms Leo’s competition chaperone.

As the territorial winner, Ms Leo and Ms Ropeti, will be travelling to Washington, DC, in May on a fully funded trip where the young Adventist student and Pathfinder will compete with other students from around the United States in this year’s National Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Ms Leo credits her success to her family, her school, and to God, “who was and will always be my biggest help,” she said.

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